Monday, June 20, 2011

Second Thoughts

I'm back.

It turned out, that without this blog, I felt lost, and somewhat helpless. There is power in the truth. And with another looming battle with city bureaucrats, because I tore up part of my driveway to plant a garden, a part of my driveway I have never used and would not need even if I owned a vehicle, I feel called to write about that too. That, and the words of support I have received from readers, slight in number but broad in kindness and sincerity, compels me to rekindle the fire that lead me to start writing here. There was a time when I thought I would maintain a blog until the Internet goes down forever. I'm thinking like that again. I hope the reader will forgive my spell of self-pity, a weakness I am not at all immune to. Nine thousand post views in one year is, I have come to recognize, infinitely greater than none. Thank you for your support.

Continuing, I will revisit the driveway situation. Since I moved into this house in 2006 I have dreamt of fruit trees where the driveway is. I finally gave myself permission this year to begin that process, tearing up much of the fossil fuel-derived asphalt, while leaving more than enough driveway to allow motor-vehicle access to the garage. In the process of preparing the garden beds throughout the yard, I moved approximately 200 wheelbarrows of soil to the driveway, layering leaves, then soil, then leaves, and so on, building soil. I planted vegetables and flowers and nitrogen fixers. The city inspector promptly sent me a letter, that I was only allowed asphalt, concrete or pavers, and I had to be in compliance with the order by June 12, or I would be charged $100 for each subsequent inspection, with the threat of criminal and civil penalties.

I called the inspector twice. He did not respond. I called the inspections office, and was put in touch with his supervisor. This man seemed reasonable. He said he would have the inspector take a picture, and if I still had a driveway, there wouldn't be a problem. I called him back several days later. He had nothing to say about my driveway, instead bringing up the extension the city gave me, after I challenged them about their attempt to condemn my house because I'm not using natural gas, a battle in which he played no part. He informed me that the decision was no longer his, that I would have to speak with JV, the very same woman who told me that people like me need to apply for assistance from Centerpoint Energy, and that if I didn't pursue that and hook the gas back up, she would condemn my house and have me removed from it by the police.

Ms JV had been chastened by the City Attorneys office, for her clear indifference to that pesky Fourth Amendment, that part in our Constitution about unreasonable search and seizure. I may be wrong, but I'm assuming she is planning to take vengeance upon me - as soon as she is done kicking people out of their houses in North Minneapolis, in the aftermath of the tornado that tore through that poorest of Minneapolis neighborhoods. All in the name of health and safety, of course, just like it says on their written orders of violation, right after the part where they accuse you of being a criminal, for violating whatever code they have deemed appropriate. Any rational discussion about what is in fact appropriate, being out of the question. Though their orders all say too, that if you have any questions at all, feel free to call, and they will be sure to address them. To tell you either that they have no answer for you, or that the only thing that matters is what the bureaucrat decides what matters, even if that thing is entirely contrary to anything even resembling the truth.

If you think I overstate it, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Joel Salatin's book, Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal. The Salatin Family Farm, also known as Polyface Farm, was profiled in Michael Pollan's outstanding book The Omnivores Dillema. Polyface Farm is a model of what all farms should be. Reading his book, my problem with the Minneapolis City office of pharonic inspectors seems quaint. His experience makes it clear that truth is not a thing the typical bureaucrat is after. Power, yes. Cruelty, indeed. Truth? Irrelevant. Knowing that he has gone through much worse, however, does not lessen the frustration I feel that there are petty tyrants conspiring to harm this American.

Home of the free? The truth is irrelevant and even contrary to the aims of the bureaucrat, because the application of the truth would often mean the bureaucrat would be out of a job. There may be a place for the city inspections office, maybe, but coming after me isn't anything but the generating of revenue, and the petty application of arbitrary power. I'm not doing anybody any harm, except perhaps myself, and that isn't any of the city government's god-damned business. I tend to think of the typical tea partier as a twit and a crank, who would rail against the overreach of government, while more than happy to support the petty and arbitrary use of government power against anyone who isn't a conservative Christian - but I certainly won't mind at all if my government shuts down, indefinitely. Maybe that's what it's going to take for us to start taking responsibility for our community, rather than handing tyrannical powers to government rule makers, who inevitably abuse it? We're on the verge of that, a government shutdown, here in Minnesota. But somehow, I think, the politicos are going to come together and save themselves, and the bureaucracies our taxes and fees and penalties and confiscated property maintain.

I was supposed to call Ms JV, Monday. I didn't. Tuesday, I'm contemplating taking the light rail to that retail vortex, Mall of America, and Best Buy, to see if I can return that ridiculous digital camera that broke down after 500 pics, and maybe see about equipment for recording phone conversations. That sort of thing has never been my style, but I don't see many ways to protect myself at this point, from ravenous code enforcers with sadistic tendencies. That might actually prove to be fun, if I can afford it. I'm not sure I can afford not to do it.

Yeah, it feels great to be blogging again. Thanks for reading.


bz said...

I'm so glad you're back!

barefoot gardener said...

Yay! Glad to see you back!

Good luck with the driveway thing...

petere said...

Well, you go William Hunter Duncan! Keep tellin' them like it is and speaking the truth. It seems like you're starting to win your battle with the city. I pray that you are. It sounds like the earth on your property is healing with all your good work. Keep serving that goddess. She appreciates it.

William Hunter Duncan said...

Thank you, BZ, MS barefoot gardener, and petere, this Summer Solstice 2011. I hope you are finding it as moving and profound as I am.


William Hunter Duncan said...

To be of proper grammar, I hope you are finding the Summer Solstice as deeply moving as I have found it (I'm a little buzzed, and ready for bed at 1:43; and smiling.)


Luciddreams said...

I dont' think your battle is trite. I don't know what all Joel Salatin went through, but I know what he does, and I look up to him as a leader. My dream would be to run a farm similar to his.

Your struggle is noble and needed. After all evil men persist and prevail because good men do nothing. You are doing something, and that is more than most people. That makes you a leader for the new paradigm. You are trail blazing into the new future and your efforts do not go unnoticed by your readers or the goddess. I'm glad that you came back. Don't worry about how many hits you get.

Nobody reads my blog, but it doesn't stop me from getting the truth out, and I don't care that it's not getting read. I'm doing my small part to make the truth randomly available to a stranger who it may resonate with. I'm going to write anyway, so I might as well share it. At any rate, good luck with your battle.

Thardiust said...

It's good to see you back since, this blog is one of the only places where I can find sanity in an increasingly more insane world. Also, here's a link which describes a book by Richard Heinberg called 50 million Farmers pretty well. Since its kind of a long read I'd recommend checking it out whenever you have enough spare time.

William Hunter Duncan said...


You're great. I'll check it out.


Blogger STILL hasn't bothered to fix the problem that doesn't allow me to comment on any blogger format but the one I use. I'm taking the liberty to post what I wrote here.

You EMT guys are all a little crazy. I've got one down the alley on the other side of the block. He's great too. Likes beer almost as much as I do. Reading, I can feel your anger. I don't know that alone is reason for Google to place a disclaimer, but I didn't dig all the way through to read what is so objectionable. A little feedback: the font is a little hard to read for me, with the black background. And I'd like to hear more about your dreaming. Mine have taken a curious turn of late, and I could use some reference. Blessings, and thanks for all your friendly support.

William Hunter Duncan